Millennials and Gen Z voters’ fears over abortion rights in midterms

Abortion rights are emerging as a key issue in the midterm elections amid fears over potential challenges to the Roe V. Wade decision, which ruled abortion as a constitutional right, being overturned.

More Young Women Will Be Voting In The Midterms

A poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics shows that 37 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds say they will “definitely be voting” in the upcoming election. In 2014, only 23 percent of young voters said the same.

While more millennials say they’ll vote in the midterms, actually getting them to the polls remains a challenge. Dr. Leslie Feldman, a political science professor at Hofstra University, says candidates should work to grab millennials’ attention by speaking more about current issues, including women’s healthcare.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood says healthcare stands out as an important issue in the upcoming election. Public Affairs Coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Nassau County Louis Marzella said there was a 10-fold increase in appointments made at the organization nationwide in the first week following the 2016 presidential election with a 900 percent increase in IUD insertions with patients claiming they wanted to “get birth control that would outlive the Trump presidency,” Marzella said.

Millennial Women Fear Losing Access to Healthcare

Megan Quann is an asset manager at an investment company in New York City. She says she feels fortunate that her job gives her access to healthcare, but worries for others who might lose that as a result of the election.

“I have personally been very lucky in the sense that I’ve always had access to resources and healthcare through work,” said Quann, 27. “But if companies are able to get around providing access to birth control or other resources, whether it be in the name of ‘religious freedom’ or something else, it could become a downward spiral.”

Cara Jeffrey is a resident of Brooklyn, New York and a business manager at CFG-NY,  a business management company that represents artists in the entertainment industry. Jeffrey said she is concerned about the potential of losing access to basic women’s healthcare.

“On a smaller level, I worry about having access to birth control made more difficult or expensive,” said Jeffrey, 27. Even more importantly, I worry that attempts to strip women of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act will jeopardize the overall wellness and safety of women in America.”

Jeffrey and Quann are just two examples of young women concerned for their healthcare.

Women’s Healthcare Proves to be Important Issue

A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center found that 66 percent of registered voters between 18 and 29-years-old said healthcare was “very important” to them. More specifically, 39 percent of 18 to 44-year-old women voters said they were “more enthusiastic” about voting in the 2018 election, according to data acquired by the nonprofit group, Kaiser Family Foundation, a huge jump from the 14 percent in 2014.

Approximately 27 percent of those voters say healthcare is the “most important issue” that candidates should be talking about. The upcoming midterm elections are especially important because the services provided by organizations like Planned Parenthood such as sexual education, abortions and STD testing are being threatened.

“In this national political climate, all those services are being threatened,” Marzella said. “There is more of a concern around what policies are going to look like going into the 2018 election on a federal and state level.”

The Impact of Brett Kavanaugh

Another concern is the security of the Roe V. Wade decision. Marzella said people are concerned about the state of Roe v. Wade especially with the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court judge

“If he is confirmed, the decision might be overturned since he might shift the majority vote of the Supreme Court, which is the only body of government that can overturn Roe v. Wade,” Marzella said in September.

A survey by the Pew Research Center from July 2018 shows that 39 percent of Americans are concerned about Kavanaugh overturning the decision while 29 percent do not believe he would overturn it. About 32 percent said it wouldn’t matter or gave no opinion.

Another Pew survey from 2016 revealed that around 69 percent of U.S. adults want the decision to remain in place while 28 percent said they would want it overturned. A survey from 2017 revealed that around 57 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while around 40 percent believe it should illegal in all or most cases.

Jeffrey remains hopeful that elected and appointed officials will consider the impact of their decisions on women.

“I hope that those elected will work to make sure that any legislation on the table allows women to have control over the choices of their own bodies,” Jeffrey said. “As well as access to safe and affordable healthcare.”

Photo credit: Kristan Bravo